Arrhenatherum elatius subsp. bulbosum  'Variegatum'

bulbous oat grass    Perennial of the Month-- November 2005 

(air-wren-an' ther-um  ell-A' tee-us  bul-bO' sum) (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Vareigated Oat Grass, Bulbous Oat Grass (or combinations of these)

Family: Poaceae (Gramineae), Grass

Height x width: 12" x 12-24"

Growth rate; habit: moderate, spreading clump

Foliage: leaves 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide and 12-16" long; bluish green with white edges, best color in full sun

Flowers: insignificant panicles in summer, pale green, 4-8" long, may not flower if too hot

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9 (often listed to zone 5 minimum, but has proven hardy in Vermont zone 4 trials)

Soil: well-drained, tolerates dry

Light: full sun to part shade

Pests and problems: none significant, leaf tips may brown if hot and dry

Landscape habit, uses: rock gardens, fronts of perennial beds and borders for fine to medium texture, attractive accent or specimen plant, containers, massed as a groundcover, winter interest in the south; combines well with white-edged hostas in part shade, interplanted with white daffodils; in front of white roses, at base of ornamental conifers, other white variegated foliage perennials, blue forget-me-nots, dark or purple-leaved foliage such as from coralbell cultivars

Other interest: native to Europe; small storage bulbs at base of stems, hence the name; species is a much taller bunchgrass, grown partidcularly in the midwest as a forage crop

Other culture: if leaf tips brown in summer, shear off tips for fall regrowth; may be considered invasive under ideal conditions in western states; good for northern gardens as it prefers cool nights--a cool season grass; may need division every 2-3 years under ideal conditions

Propagation: division easiest (spring best), root cuttings, seed

Sources: many wholesale perennial nurseries and Proven Winners growers, complete garden retailers

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